If you do one thing for your health…stop eating plastic!
So, I know what you’re thinking, who eats plastic? Well, newsflash, you do. In fact you drink it too. If you take a moment to think about it, you’ll realise that nearly all of what you eat and drink every day is packaged in plastic….the take away coffee you drank this morning, the container of soup you microwaved at lunch, the bottle of water on your desk, the boil in the bag rice you’ll cook for dinner along with the tub of yogurt you’ll have for dessert.
But what’s that got to do with you ingesting plastic? Well, the reality is that recent scientific studies have proven that plastic used to house everyday food products, gradually leaches a toxic chemical called bisphenol-A (BPA) into the foods and liquids stored within. In fact, more than 90% of us have BPA in our system right now which gets inside our bodies through the food and drinks that have been exposed to plastic.
And when plastics are exposed to high temperatures they leak even more. So, for example, microwaving food in plastic containers or leaving water bottles in the sun increases BPA transfer.
BPA’s main job is to make plastic shatterproof, so, in the world of plastic manufacturing, it’s an unbelievably useful ingredient. Trouble is, scientists have linked it to a host of health problems. BPA is considered an endocrine disruptor. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with human hormones. Research is still ongoing, but, so far, studies have linked BPA to numerous health issues including breast cancer, infertility, heart disease as well as adverse effects on the brain, kidneys, liver and nervous system. Babies and young children appear to be most at risk.
By now most countries have already banned BPA use in baby bottles. So far, France is the only country in the world that has banned BPA from all food packaging. To date, the European Food Safety Authority has maintained that BPA exposure only poses a low risk to consumers. However, it is currently undertaking a full re-evaluation of this. In the meantime, the agency has recommended that the current tolerable daily intake (TDI) for BPA be reduced as a precautionary measure.
So, while food safety authorities reach their conclusion on whether BPA is safe or not, what should you do? Personally, I’m not waiting around to find out. I’ve already started to take small measures to limit my own exposure and that of my family. Because BPA is in so many products that we encounter every day, completely eliminating it from your life is virtually impossible. But, limiting your exposure is possible. And it doesn’t require big changes, just small ones.
So, if you’re concerned, you can do simple things like avoid drinking out of plastic re-useable water bottles or take away coffee cups. Buy a stainless steel portable bottle or mug instead. For storing food, use non plastic options – those made of porcelain, glass or stainless steel do not contain BPA. Avoid cooking or heating food in plastic containers or using roasting/steaming bags and never wrap food in cling film, particularly if it’s hot.
Most of all, you could reduce your intake of processed meals, tinned food and canned drinks (all of which are lined with BPA) and try using more fresh produce instead. Regardless of whether the dangers of plastic are real or exaggerated, such changes can only do you good.